What’s the Buzz: Digital Self-Regulation

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Today is World Health Day. This year’s theme asks us to recognize the value of nurses. It’s an incredibly timely and wonderful theme that encourages us to remember those who are on the front line as we navigate through our public health crises. One of the best ways that we can honor them is to practice physical distancing from others. That action can slow down the number of people who need care in medical facilities. 

Staying home with our families has its challenges – one of which is trying to find ways to remain connected with friends and extended family members. Those adults who can, work from home. They work in addition to trying to guide their children through some semblance of academic work. We’ve increased our digital connections as we try to maintain relationships with those outside of our homes.

The increase in our technology use has brought to mind the need for digital self-regulation. During this time, we need to help our youngsters (and ourselves) strive for balance in our technology use. We need to keep our online time productive while not letting technology take over our lives. Maintaining a balance is especially hard when limiting our time out in the community. 

Here are a few tips to share with our young people to help with digital self-regulation: 

Visual hygiene helps to make sure that your eyes can work optimally without straining. It includes things like placing lighting above your workspace that focuses on the workspace without shining in your eyes. Keep text presented at a 20-degree angle and an appropriate distance. Follow the 20–20–20 rule, taking a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and looking at something 20 feet away.

Currently, many students are in front of computers or tablets for prolonged periods as well. They may be doing schoolwork, video chatting, or creating their newest digital masterpiece. Encourage them to take a break every 30 minutes to relieve the strain on their eye and neck muscles. They can use GoNoodle (reviewed here) to lead them in a focused breathing exercise or have fun with the chicken dance. Just a few minutes will help them to “loosen up”.

Another aspect of digital self-regulation is positive social media engagement. Have young students watch BrainPop’s Digital Etiquette video (reviewed here). Discuss the video and follow up with a quiz or challenge to see how much of the content they remember. Students in middle school or above would benefit from working through a few modules from the Social Media Test Drive (reviewed here). Safekids (reviewed here) offers a family contract for online safety that would make for a great family discussion prompt.

A final concept in digital self-regulation is screen-time balance. This iKeepSafe video can help explain the concept and why it is important.  

What materials do you use to discuss digital self-regulation? Leave us a comment with a recommendation in the chat. 


About the author: Ruth Okoye

Dr. Ruth Okoye is the Director of K12 Initiatives at The Source for Learning. As a long-time technology coach, Ruth shares ideas and strategies for professional learning and thoughts on how to motivate yourself to “dig deeper” into educational technologies.


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